The first Super Bowl occurred in 1967 and attracted just over 24 million viewers. Most recently, 111.3 million Americans watched the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. The event’s rapid growth in popularity has made it the most watched television program in history. Though I look forward to the watching the Super Bowl every year, I can’t help but wonder what exactly it is that draws the attention of such an enormous crowd.
The History of Football
Some may argue that football is America’s most beloved sport. Football dates as far back as 1865 when it got picked up by several colleges as a game slightly different from rugby. In 1879, a player and coach at Yale University known as Walter Camp decided to establish a set of rules that would legitimize American football and separate the sport entirely from rugby. The first professional football game took place in 1895 between a team representing Latrobe, Pennsylvania and a team from Jeanette, Pennsylvania. The first league of professional football teams formed in 1920 and was named the American Professional Football Association. In 1922, the League was re-named the National Football League (NFL). The American Football Conference (AFC) was started in 1946 to rival the NFL. CBS began broadcasting professional football games in 1956 and soon after Americans were hooked.
Soccer is the most popular sport worldwide; however, the United States pays more attention to football. Because football (unlike soccer) originated in America, many see it as a symbol of American culture. We take pride in having a sport to call our own and therefore support it heavily. The development of hometown teams increased America’s passion for football even more. People were given the opportunity to cheer for a team that represents their state. This gave people a sense of belonging and football became apart of their identity. Personally, I was raised in South Carolina and am a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan. Some of my favorite child hood memories come from watching the Panthers play every Sunday with my family.
The Halftime Show
If the game doesn’t excite people enough to watch the Super Bowl, then the half time show will. Until the 1990’s, the Halftime show mainly featured high school and collegiate marching bands. For the past two decades the Super Bowl half time show has used well-known modern and contemporary artists as its performers. The half time show raises the Super Bowl to a whole new level of entertainment. Sometimes I find it hard to celebrate the Super Bowl festivities when the team I have followed the entire season isn’t playing, but the halftime show keeps me tuning in to the Super Bowl when my Carolina Panthers disappoint. Each year the halftime show gets bigger and better, which keeps viewers anticipating what’s going to happen. This year Madonna impressed people with her ancient Rome inspired performance. The performance included acrobatics, artistic light displays, and extreme wardrobe choices that had the audience glued to the screen.
The Super Bowl being the most watched televised event makes it prime time for advertisers. A company must pay $3.5 million to obtain a 30- second commercial during the Super Bowl. The biggest Super Bowl ad spenders are General Motors ($83 million), PepsiCo ($174 million), and Anheuser-Busch ($239 million). Companies want to make the best of their investment by producing a commercial that will grab the viewer’s attention. Super Bowl commercials have the reputation of being over the top and hilarious for this very reason. When the game get’s too intense, the commercials are right there to lighten the mood. Ultimately, the commercials maintain the audience’s interest even when the game isn’t on.
Millions of Americans are compelled to watch the Super Bowl every year because it brings people together. It has become embedded in our lives. The thrill of the competition combined with entertainment from the halftime show and commercials make a recipe for greatness. Football fan or not, the Super Bowl is a celebration people just don’t want to miss.